MEMPHIS, Tennessee — While thousands of Memphis Light, Gas, and Water customers are trying to figure out how they are going to keep the lights on, parents are worried their students won't even be able to do their school work. Crystal Mallory, a single mother of three teenagers living in Frayser, has been behind on bills for months but doesn't want that to interfere with her children getting their education.
She owes more than $2,200 to MLGW, which has accumulated in the past year after her apartment burned down and lost all her and her children's belongings. However, with the pandemic forcing her out of work she is just trying to stay afloat.
"They sent me a notice that my services would be disconnected today and I’m very concerned because if they can’t have the lights on then they can’t plug up laptops, they can’t plug up their mobile hotspot," Mallory said.
She's on a pay as you go program, but her debt with MLGW seems to never end, Keeping the power on in her home is critical for children's education, but also their health.
"I have two children who have asthma and it’ll eventually start getting extremely hot in there and if it does I’m afraid their asthma may act up," Mallory said.
For parents in a similar situation, MLGW said some organizations can offer financial assistance to help subsidize what you owe.
MIFA can provide assistance for a family in a financial crisis. It reports the average eligible household receives $296.
Shelby County's Community Services Agency can provide up to $650 on qualifying people's utility bills.
For parents struggling to make it by, the YMCA of Memphis and the Mid-South is offering a program where their students can complete their virtual school day at one of its locations.
"I want my children to be able to do virtual learning since it’s the only option that’s offered right now," Mallory said.
In the meantime, Mallory, like thousands of others, is hoping she can find a way to keep the lights on.
"If the lights are shut off, me and my children will probably remain at the home," Mallory said. "We'll probably reside here and just do the best that we can to try to survive."